Now the clocks have gone back and the air has turned chilly, the age-old debate about when to rug your horse is in full swing. With plenty in the media about the benefits to equine health of not over-rugging your horse, the SEIB team have come up with the following things to think about:
Clipping – If your horse is unclipped, he is far less likely to need a rug on in the Autumn months. Once a horse has been clipped, he will most likely need a rug on unless the temperature is unseasonably warm. If you plan on leaving your horse out over-night into Winter and want to keep riding him, a trace clip as opposed to a hunter clip can work wonders with helping him stay warm in the field.
Shelter – On a bare, open hillside, with no shelter, horses can quickly get cold during an Autumn storm. Yet, in a field with decent hedges, or a field shelter – particularly on the side of the prevailing wind – wet and windy weather will have a lot less impact on your horse. If you have good shelter from both wind and rain, it is often possible to delay putting a rug on for a good few weeks.
Weather – Once you have started putting your horse’s rug on, he will get used to having it on. Is a slightly chilly October night enough to warrant a rug – what will you put on the horse when the weather is bitterly cold and snowing in the depths of January?
Coat – When you arrive in the morning to check your horse, how does his coat look? Is it smooth and lying flat? If so, it is likely that he is quite warm underneath it – his coat is after-all there to keep him warm and healthy!
Workload – If your horse is out in the field and you are riding him daily, it can be useful to have a lightweight rug on him so that the horse is clean and dry when you come to put the saddle and girth on. If his head is wet, giving his head and behind his ears a good rub with a towel is a great way to help prevent the bridle chafing him.
Age and Condition – As horses get older they tend to feel the cold more. If in previous years your horse has lost condition over the winter, Autumn is a good time to make sure that he is looking and feeling really well. Putting a rug on when the weather first turns cold and wet can help him keep condition and remain warm and dry.
Inside OR Outside – A common myth is that horses will always be warmer in a stable than out in a field. It is important to remember that out in the field a horse can wander around to keep warm, whereas in the stable he is restricted in his movement.
What rug to put on my horse?
The general advice is to put the lightest rug possible on your horse. It is always helpful to have the option of putting a heavier rug on in case the weather turns really cold.
How to measure a horse rug?
In the UK horse rugs are measured in feet and inches. They are measured along the bottom edge – from below the front straps, right along the bottom to the end of the rug. This differs from European rugs, which are measured along the back seam – from withers to the back of the rug along the top.
SEIB have been arranging horse insurance for over 50 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen.